Afternoon Edition: Feb. 8, 2021

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis speaks at the City Club of Chicago on Nov. 02, 2016.

Santiago Covarrubias/Sun-Times

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

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Afternoon Edition

Chicago’s most important news of the day, delivered every weekday afternoon. Plus, a bonus issue on Saturdays that dives into the city’s storied history.

Another winter storm arrives in Chicago this afternoon, bringing with it the possibility of 1 to 3 more inches of snow and a high near 13 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 1 degree, with wind chill values as low as -7 degrees. Tomorrow, sunny skies are in the forecast with a high near 15 degrees.

Top story

Karen Lewis dies: ‘A force of nature, smart as a summer day is long’

Karen Lewis was a fighter.

As the president of the Chicago Teachers Union, she battled for the best contracts her members could get, even as she struggled against aggressive brain cancer.

“Tell our delegates let’s get ready to fight!” Lewis said as she went into another surgery.

The death of the 67-year-old Lewis was confirmed today by her spokeswoman.

Lewis clashed fearlessly with Rahm Emanuel, calling him a liar and a bully and worse, to his face. She dealt Chicago’s combative mayor the first public defeat of his mayoral career when she outmaneuvered him in the 2012 Chicago teachers strike, winning raises for her membership in a stumbling economy and inspiring teachers nationwide.

“It had a riveting effect across the country,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.7 million member American Federation of Teachers. “You heard that a lot in 2013, 2014: ‘Just like it happened in Chicago, it can happen here.’”

Had not illness intervened, Lewis was angling to give Emanuel an even bigger blow in what was expected to be her own campaign for mayor in 2015.

Lewis formed an exploratory committee and was “seriously considering” a run, she said, and polls showed her beating Emanuel. But a brain cancer diagnosis late in 2014 forced Lewis to abandon her plans. As it was, her handpicked surrogate, Chuy Garcia, made Emanuel sweat, forcing a run-off election that Lewis occasionally participated in, despite her faltering health.

“A force of nature, smart as a summer day is long,” said Weingarten. “With a heart as big as the city of Chicago.”

Keep reading Neil Steinberg’s obituary on Karen Lewis here.

More news you need

  1. Lewis and Emanuel had a rocky relationship as the two clashed repeatedly over labor and education issues, but shared a “dark sense of humor” and at times enjoyed each other’s company. They butted heads, in part, because they were so much alike, Fran Spielman writes.
  2. Four people were killed and at least 22 others were wounded in shootings across the city over the weekend as a cold snap hit the area. One man died while trying to break up a fight in Austin. Another was killed in a drive-by in Little Village.
  3. Illinois public health officials reported 1,747 new and probable cases of the coronavirus today as numbers continue trending in a positive direction. Today’s daily caseload is the state’s lowest since Oct. 6 when 1,617 new cases were logged.
  4. Mayor Lori Lightfoot is losing yet another key member of her cabinet. Lisa Morrison Butler, a holdover from Emanuel’s administration, resigned as Family and Support Services Commissioner today.
  5. North Side residents say a new ghost kitchen that exclusively fulfills to-go orders for restaurants like Chick-fil-A creates regular traffic problems as delivery drivers pack the area to pick up orders. Ald. Matt Martin said as many as 70 drivers can clog the street during a dinner rush and his office gets multiple complaints from neighbors every day.
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A bright one

Local artist aims to ‘Protect Little Village’ with public art that celebrates mask wearing

Silvia Morales detested creating art as a child, and she probably would still feel that way today if not for an art teacher in high school. “That teacher helped me find that I not only had a passion in something I thought I hated, but she showed me I had a future career in it,” Morales said.

Now, the 20-year-old is pursuing a career in art education at the University of Illinois at Chicago and is beginning to make a name for herself in Little Village’s public art scene.

Morales’ latest work is a hyperlocal spin on the city’s “Protect Chicago” campaign that aims to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus; she calls it “Protect La Villita.” Her campaign aims to place 250 posters in businesses, and on street poles and brick facades.


Silvia Morales stands in front of the mural while holding posters that she displayed around the neighborhood.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

“I continue to see my community members fall to the struggle of COVID-19 and want to use this as a platform to get people to understand that no one is immune to it,” Morales said. “In our community, we need to be protecting not only ourselves but our neighbors, too.”

The posters feature bright and “fun colors” with the Old English font that is a staple of the neighborhood. Some also have residents photographed wearing masks.

“I wanted to use the beauty of Little Village to show the beauty in protecting each other,” Morales said. “I am looking at wearing a mask as sort of a celebration for protecting one another. I mean, by wearing a mask it is somewhat of a heroic act that should be celebrated.”

Read Manny Ramos’ full story here.

From the press box

Tom Brady won his seventh Super Bowl last night, and it looks like there’s little reason for the Bears and other NFC teams to suspect he won’t stand in the way again next season, Jason Lieser writes.

The Bulls will be without forward Lauri Markkanen for two to four weeks due to a right shoulder injury. The 23-year-old is averaging a career-high 19.1 points on 51% shooting this season.

And ahead of the start of the high school basketball season, our Michael O’Brien ranks the top 25 teams in the area. O’Brien calls Simeon the “most talented team in the state,” but it’s another squad that opens the season at No. 1.

Your daily question ☕

How have you changed your shopping habits during the pandemic?

Reply to this email (please include your first name and where you live) and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

On Friday, we asked you: How do you plan on spending this very cold weekend? Here’s what some of you said...

“Sitting on the lanai watching the birds and wildlife. Maybe start a fire and drink some wine, too.” — Jeff Pavlovich

“Planting my butt on the couch and watching movies and the Super Bowl!” — Teri Lombardo Brabec

“Duh! Staying inside where it’s warm!” — Lynn Morrow Peterson

“Hibernating at home and working on a 1,000-piece puzzle.” — Joyce Heiser

“Cleaning and finding the time to read.” — Cheryl Cohen-Bugner

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